What a difference geography makes.
Many Republicans are in an uproar, convinced that Congress has gone against the American people's wishes in passing the health care bill. The thing is, they haven't. Let's face it: 53% of Americans voted for Obama, who made it crystal clear during his campaign that health care reform was number one on his list of priorities.
In June of 2009, an article in the New York Times reported that according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, Americans overwhelmingly supported "substantial changes to the health care system" and were strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress was considering, a "government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers." As of one week ago (March 16, 2010), an NBC/WSJ poll found that "more Americans supported the bill than opposed it, 46% to 45%." True, it's only a slight majority, but still a majority.
So how can passing the bill be going against the country's will?
Perhaps because the issue is so contentious, a misconception has arisen that we are all against it. Or maybe it's about who is the most vehemently for or against it that causes confusion? Note to tea partiers: just because you're louder (or use uglier words) doesn't mean you are the majority. It just makes you ... loud.
Which brings me back to the point of geography. I think that depending on where you live, it can often be difficult to get a clear picture as to what the consensus is on certain issues. I am just as guilty. Though I have many conservative friends, I live in an area that is much more progressive than, say, Dallas, Texas.
Which is why it's always a good idea to travel -- even if it's just to a different neighborhood in your own town. When we stop to listen, really listen, we hear different opinions; opinions we might not always like. But then again, that's what it's like, living in a democracy.
When you live in a big city, you can't help but brush up against people from all different neighborhoods and circumstances. I live in a good neighborhood, but can't pretend that there aren't people living in different neighborhoods, those not nearly as nice as mine. I know people who have had their children denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions, as well as adults who have topped their insurance maximums on cancer treatments. It's not easy to close your eyes to that.
I don't think the present health care bill is what everyone wanted. And for those of you who haven't actually read it, it's nothing like the socialized medicine that Canada and France enjoy -- it doesn't even have the public option that I strongly feel we need. It's ironic how conservative the bill is, really (many of the ideas in it were developed under Nixon). But it did pass, and I believe that despite the ranting of certain folks, Congress passed it precisely because they WERE listening to what the people wanted - or at least their people.
If you're still angry, consider this. The bill that Obama just signed into law today will immediately ensure that children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health insurance. Can you really say that this isn't a good thing?
In the end, we don't always get everything we want, especially when politics are involved. I'm hopeful that this bill can get a few more Americans health care, those who need it most.
Because in the end, don't we all live in the same neighborhood?